On The Download: Britney Spears’ ‘Femme Fatale’
First Published: March 24, 2011 5:44 PM EDT Credit: Jive Records
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- One of the most high profile releases of 2011, Britney Spears’ “Femme Fatale,” finally drops on Tuesday, March 29, and with her seventh studio album, Britney has released what is undoubtedly her finest work since 2003’s “In The Zone.” It is also, arguably, her best album of all time. Working with top producers, including executive producers (and current top-of-their-game hit makers) Max Martin and Dr. Luke, Britney has tapped into the zeitgeist of the current dance music craze and created a fun, edgy gem of an album, which should resonate strongly with longtime fans and newcomers alike.
Fortunately, Britney doesn’t try to be Lady Gaga, Madonna (well, not completely, read further below) or any other artist on “Femme.” The sound is uniquely her without hardly any attempt at imitation. You know with each track listen that you’re listening to a Britney Spears song.
The production work on the album, which is a consortium of highly produced electronica, is quite simply nothing short of stellar. Britney pushes the envelope on several tracks with tricks like the dub-step breakdown in lead single, “Hold It Against Me,” which blends seamlessly with her more typical pop sound.
However, there are very few identifiable actual instruments used on any track. In other words, if you agree with Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs” winning Album of the Year at the 2011 Grammys, this might not be the genre of album for you.
Second single, “Till The World Ends,” is, in my humble opinion, the single greatest song that Britney has ever released in her now 13-year-long career (yes, I think it’s even better than “Toxic”!). It’s pop music that’s not bubble gum — a trend which she began to break away from beginning with a couple of tracks (“Piece Of Me” and “Radar”) from her 2007 album, “Blackout.” And it’s edgy without being polarizing. Like Jennifer Lopez’s recent comeback single, “On The Floor,” this track could be played in a club around the world and feel neither mainstream nor stale.
Additional standout tracks include the radio-friendly (and likely third single candidate) “I Wanna Go” and the slightly more down-tempo “Gasoline.” “How I Roll” is a light, fun and happy electronic pop song and “Trouble for Me” has an exciting, yet somewhat dark and sexy, overtone — both have extremely catchy hooks and could be sleeper hits. Album closer “Criminal,” another great song, seems to pay homage slightly to a few different songs from Madonna’s 2003 “American Life” album (namely, it sounds like a hybrid of “X-Static Process,” “Mother & Father” and “Intervention”). There’s not a single traditional ballad to be heard on “Femme Fatale,” although “Criminal” comes closest.
Still yet, some other collaborative tracks, such as “(Drop Dead) Beautiful feat. Sabi” and “Big Fat Bass feat. Will.i.am” feel like throwaway tracks. Although they do fit in better within the context of listening to the album all of the way through from start to finish.
Any listener of “Femme Fatale” should compare it against both other current leading Top 40 albums and Britney’s other most recent releases, the aforementioned “Blackout” and 2008’s “Circus” (my review of “Circus” HERE).
Britney may never achieve the astronomical career highs she experienced with the first three albums of her career, but with “Femme Fatale,” she may certainly come close.
Interested parties can listen to “Femme Fatale” now through April 5 on AOL Music HERE.
Britney will perform songs from “Femme Fatale” in a pre-taped performance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on March 29, the same day as the album’s release.
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